Balancing Work, Writing, Friends, Activities, et al…



(photo by Nathan Dumlao on

Is there a way to make this happen?  Is there a way to make all the things happen with limited amount of time in a day? I am still trying to figure out.

When I started this whole process, it was just to see if I could.  After that it was to exercise my creativity.  Then it was to push for consistency.  Somewhere along the way, I had to start pushing things to the side to make my deadlines.

My skills dropped, my time with friends and family fell to the wayside and my workload increased.  That last bit has nothing to do with writing except that it has eaten more of my mental time and I feel my writing has suffered for it.

I’ve tried not sleeping, but that only made me more tired.  I pulled back somewhat on my deadlines, but the desire was to get better and faster at this idea.  So far, that has not been the case.  Well… the faster part anyway.  I do feel that I have improved as a writer and that was the main goal from the beginning.

So that’s one plus.  Maybe I can figure this whole thing out.


The Nun with a Gun ~ Chapter 29: A New Day ~


The boy’s eyes were caught by the long stretch of coffins that decorated the walls of the undertaker’s shop before he turned back to watch the sister go.

She left the little town as she had come to it.  Alone, with no horse, no wagon or donkey.  Only the two legs given her by the Lord saw her way out.

Her habit had shadowed her face in the early morning sun while the white edge of the coif fairly glowed with promise.  Her black skirt rustled in the light breeze and the dust raised by her feet pillowed outward to be caught and thrown further out into the world.

For a moment she stopped and watched the train on the horizon as it cut its way back to San Francisco.  A light smile graced her lips.   The Chinese women and the Madam’s girls were making their way back to their new home.  Fahn Quai would see them through as she had done for so many others.

The words of Cavanaugh echoed within her, “How can Man have free will with a God that is omnipotent?”

Her eyes followed a cloud as it slowly scudded its way across, “How am I any different than he in your eyes?”

She had kept her promise.  A killer she may be, but she had done that much.  Maybe she would burn in Hell for all eternity, but maybe that’s what was needed of her.

A wry smile cracked her lips, “They do say you work in mysterious ways…”

The dusty plains called to her and the hymn of the Queen of the Waves came to her lips.  It wafted back to the young boy who stayed behind.

About her waist hung a gun belt.  Well-worn was the leather and the steel of the Colt Peacemaker as it gleamed in the sun.  From one wrist dangled a string of prayer beads made of darkest ebony and a single cross hung at the end which swayed with the movement from her steps.  Where she went was where justice was needed.  What she left behind was ashes and hope.

The boy jumped when the burnt hinge to the right saloon door snapped and it clattered loudly to the wooden floor.


The Nun with a Gun ~ Chapter 28: Boxed In ~


The sister strode out onto the raised sidewalk along the main street of the little town.  The air stank with the smoke from the burning buildings and rang with the screams of wounded horses.  Gunshots continued to burst out until only the smoke and fire remained.

Her eyes tracked to the middle of the street where Major Cavanaugh stood at one end while the brothel’s madam slowly moved out to face him.

The flat dead, voice of the daughter of the Pinkerton woman broke the silence, “How’s your poor feet, Major?”

Cavanaugh’s laugh was grating, “Funny, girl.”  His eyes lit on the scarred woman as she came to a stop across from him, “You taking me on, woman?  I would’ve figured you’d have learned that lesson a long time ago.”  His finger traced a mirror image of the cut in her face.

The madam remained quiet as did her daughter, the voice.  With a move that seemed practiced, she slipped her pistol free from its holster and checked to make sure it still had a few shells in it.

Cavanaugh sneered, “When I’m done with you, demimonde, there won’t be enough of you left to snore.”

Her response was to simply slide her pistol home.  Her right leg slipped behind her into a dueler’s stance.  Her left hand moved toward the holster she wore on her right hip.  Her right hand stretched out and she waved him on with her index and middle fingers.

His snarl whipped across the quiet and he grabbed for the butt of his pistol.  Before he could even bring it to bear, the air cracked with a shot.  His body was hammered back by one hit and then by another.  His pistol slipped from his nerveless fingers before he slumped to his knees.  His hand reached out before he slammed face first into the dirt of the town road.

In surprise, the nun watched as the madam holstered her pistol and stepped out of the road.  She felt a tug on her skirt and looked down at the adolescent girl whose voice held no emotion.

That young girl looked her square on when she said, “To cut a man’s suspenders, a girl must be fast.  Wouldn’t you say, Sister?”

The Nun with a Gun ~Chapter 27: Fisticuffs ~


Tuco, with two of his men on his boot heels, burst into the Bella’s Cage.  While the door swung loosely against its hinges, the nun stood calmly across from them, her pistol in hand.

“Burn it!” cried Tuco.

Tuco’s men threw their lit bottles of kerosene against the walls of the building.  Before the bottles left their hands, the sister had squeezed the trigger on her pistol twice.  One of the bandits grunted as a round punctured his chest. As he crashed into a table, the other barely had enough time to raise his gun before his legs were shot out beneath him.  Her third shot went through the brigand’s head.

Tuco raised his Paterson and yanked on the trigger but the sister had already moved.  She slid to a stop by the bar and the two of them stood facing each other.  As the cylinders on both pistols clicked over, they each hit a spent chamber.

Tuco dropped his gun and winked at her, “Your move, Sister.”

The nun flung her pistol behind the bard and took a boxer’s stance.  A smirk split its way across her face, “I’m not hanging from the rafters this time.  Think you can take me, Tuco?”

A vicious grin lit up his face, “I told him I’d kill you.”

With a scream he launched himself at the woman.  She threw up a block against his clumsy strike and drove a fist into his sternum.  His breath caught quickly as he stumbled back.  She slammed another fist high into his ribs close to the armpit.  He tried to pull back, but she rode him up against a table.  As he slipped, she step inside his defense and threw a jab under his rib cage, followed by another into the sternum.

He twisted to get away from her, but in doing so, dropped the arm that protected his face.  She was unrelenting as she followed him with a quick inner shift and her fist smashed into the bottom of his jaw.  He flailed wildly as she struck him repeatedly high in the ribs near his armpit.  As he rolled over to get away, her fists drove into his kidneys repeatedly.

His hand caught a chair and he was able to right himself.  He forced a sloppy punch that caught a glancing blow to her temple.  As she stumbled back, he threw another jab, but she caught his wrist.  Using the momentum of his lunge, she spun him like a top and smashed his wrist into the edge of the table.

The crack of the break was loud in the confines of the room.  His scream tore out and he fell to one knee.  Her eyes lit up as she twisted his broken wrist and struck him repeatedly in the temple until he went limp.  She kicked him square in the chest after he fell heavily to the floor.

The bursts of gunfire outside in the streets had become sporadic while the shouting had intensified.  Clementine poked her head into the building and took in the nun standing over the big man, Tuco, as he lay on the floor.

“Any trouble, Sister?”

The nun looked down at the man and back at Clementine, “He didn’t know what he was getting into.  Keep an eye on him, would you?”

As the flames licked into the dry wood of the walls, Clementine bent down and retrieved a pistol from one of the dead desperados.  A quick check revealed a couple unspent rounds were still left in it.  With a practiced throw, she tossed it to the nun, “Of course.  We’re almost done outside.”

As the sister stepped through the door and back out into the street, Clementine turned to the man lying on the floor.  His eyes fluttered open and he scrabbled around.

“Where’d she go?  I’m not done with her yet.”

“You heard the madam’s voice.  Third time’s the charm, Tuco.”  Clementine squeezed the trigger of her own revolver and watched as his head burst before it bounced against the floor, “Third time’s the charm…”

The Nun with a Gun ~Chapter 26: Trapped ~


Ling Moy could hear the horses behind her as she ran.  She had dropped her shotgun somewhere behind her, but she had pulled the trigger twice.  Its barrels were as empty as her stomach.  She came back out to the main street and bullets were flying in all directions.

“Stop running, you flash-girl!” roared a voice behind her.

The wooden flooring she ran across exploded and wood fragments flew around her face.  She tripped and fell into the street.  The ground thumped beneath her as the horse moved closer to her.  She rolled over and found herself lying in front of O-Lan.  The man on the horse laughed as he aimed his pistol at them.  She threw her arms over her face.

The gun in O-Lan’s hands barked and the horse threw itself upward.  The rider slipped off the back and tumbled to the ground.  O-Lan strode forward with no fear showing on her face as she pulled the trigger on her pistol two more times.

Though muffled, Ling Moy heard O-Lan curse, “Stupid, color-seeking wolf.”

Ling Moy slowly sat up when a pistol clattered next to her.

O-Lan shouted, “Get up lazy bug!  We aren’t done yet.”

Writing My Fourth Novel Pt. 2


(photo by Sergio Rola on

NanoWrimo was a bust for me this year.  I didn’t even hit the low number from my first attempt.

On the one hand, my coffee making skills have reached a new level.  I mean I’m roasting my own beans now.  And with that came a whole new gamut of understanding as to what it is about coffee that I actually like.

Whoa… Off topic much?  Well, this month, yes.

The ending of the story has always been known to me.  I didn’t know where things started or where it went, but I knew how it finished.  So this should be easy then, right? Apparently not.

The amount of information a person needs to remember to keep the continuity going becomes staggering.  I thought I had all my little ducks in a row, but I found out within the first week that I needed more rows.  And more ducks were involved than I had initially remembered.

My writing slowed down. But then I was taken with this random idea and wrote heavily that day.  I either had two ideas or one that would merge together into something completely different than the initial ones.  Aah the freedom of a new idea(s).

I ended up fleshing out other story ideas that had popped up in my head during my trip.  Writing was fun!  But this book sat there like an accusing finger, waiting for me to get back to it.  So I muddled through it some more.

In a fit of a need for word count, I blasted through the ending and even finished an epilogue.  I knew I needed more of a structure than I had needed previously.  I went all out and wrote down every idea I had concerning the story and created an outline for how the beginning gets to the ending.  The holes in it were huge and I knew I needed to go through the previous books to figure out what was missing, but now was not the time to read.  I wandered back to where I had stopped and muddled through.  My word count dried up, but still I wrote every day.

Well… until the weekend of my birthday.  I became more distracted.  Other requirements piled up and book four slid back a little further each day.  I made some headway this week, but I finally decided I would need to start over.

Kind of heart breaking, but that is what’s needed to complete this one out.  Most likely I will use what I have written just not where it’s currently at.

I will complete it and rewrite it until it is done.  A story needs a finish as much as it needs a beginning.

Perseverance is the key… as always.

The Nun with a Gun ~Chapter 25: The Hustle of Bustles ~


As the rifle blasts erupted into Cavanaugh’s men, the sister watched as one horse fell squealing on its side, trapping its rider.  Two men toppled off their horses and a third ran toward the saloon.

This horse’s rider roared like a banshee as he flung burning bottles of kerosene against the sides of the saloon and it quickly caught fire.  The other riders turned to give chase to the China girls.

“Now!” shouted the nun as she ran out into the street.

Gunfire burst from the high windows of the brothel and the bank.  The sister stood in the middle of the street and raised her pistol to shoot one of the men as he wheeled his horse back around.  He went down as a hole sprouted in his chest.  The bottle of kerosene in his hand shattered against the hard ground.  Flames leapt out and caught on the man trapped under his horse.

The sister ran across the street and a shot blasted into the post nearest her head.  As she turned to see who fired it, a man slumped forward on his horse and the horse bolted.  The nun took aim and the pistol kicked in her hands.

Cole, who had been riding next to Tuco, went down.  Tuco wheeled his horse around and watched the sister run down the street back into the brothel.